Note: This column appears in the 9/20 issue of the Glendale Star, and the 9/21 issue of the Peoria Times
Color me impressed.
On what was shaping up to be a fairly standard weekend -- Giants are a mess, can’t get stupid “This is our country” song out of my head, the Cardinals are about to blow a game, O.J. arrested -- the Cards went and flipped the whole thing around on me. In fact, I was literally in the process of writing my “Cards are 0-2; Now what?” column while Josh Brown was putting the Seahawks ahead by three in the fourth quarter. Now you can look for that column on EBay right next to the surplus of “Patriots, 2006 AFC Champs” t-shirts.
So yet again, I’m an idiot. However, I will say this: One of the major themes of this prematurely written column was the fact that the Arizona Cardinals were not going to make any strides until they won a game that nobody expected them to win. Guess what? I didn’t expect the Cards to win. And if I’m not nobody, then nobody is.
In fact, just for the heck of it, here’s what I wrote: And how about 2007 being the year that the Cards finally win one of those, “Wow, I never saw that coming!” games. I mean, it’s about freakin’ time. Every team on the rise needs one of those wins. In 2006, the Titans started off 0-4, pulled Vince Young off the bench, and by Week 13, they’re beating the Colts. Everybody took notice. That’s what the Cardinals need. Vince Young.
Now, aside from the unnecessary Matt Leinart dig, that paragraph still holds up. It’s just now that 2007 IS the year that the Cards finally won one of those, “Wow, I never saw that coming!” games. Everybody has taken notice.
Making Sunday’s win all the more special was the fact that it had all the makings of “Bears Game 2.0.” Big lead at home, a couple of uh-oh moments (Rackers missing the 53-yarder before halftime, the Tatupu interception, a few drive-sustaining penalties), and a general uneasy feeling. But by the time the Cards had magically turned a 17-point lead at home into a three-point deficit, the cameras panned to the sidelines, and instead of seeing a confused Denny Green with a look on his face that said, “These pretzels are making me thirsty,” we were treated to the image of a stoic Ken Whisenhunt, who seemed unfazed by the sudden turn of events, and more concerned with winning the game than deciding how he was going to explain this loss.
It is not possible to overstate the importance of this win for the Cardinals. They defeated one of the NFC’s elite teams, not to mention their division rival. They earned the first victory for their rookie head coach. They withstood a furious comeback, and even got a few breaks along the way. Their kicker -- who scored 14 fantasy points for me on Sunday, by the way! -- redeemed himself from a tough 2006, and regained his confidence. Their rushing attack and offensive line looked fantastic, and their run defense looked stellar for the second consecutive week. They got a win when they absolutely needed it, as they’re now faced with a big road test against a tough Baltimore Ravens’ team. Simply put, Sunday’s win was the most important win ever by any team in any sport.
Okay, fine. I guess it IS possible to overstate the importance of Sunday’s win. Nevertheless, if the Arizona Cardinals are going to turn 2007 into “the year” – and now, I actually believe they can – then everybody can turn to Sunday’s win as the starting point.
But hey, no matter what happens the rest of the season, nobody can steal this win away from the Cards. Not even O.J.
Wait, whose country is it again? I forget.